Past: September 1 → October 13, 2012
The representation of nature acts to replace “ the open window on the world ”—which has been the veduta of the painters for the past 4 centuries. Today, the computer screen, with its connected networks and internet websites, does the same. But, painting has not disappeared, rather, it withdrew ; whether it remained on the surface of the canvas as a medium, or it acquired a virtual and dematerialized dimension. Techno Nature showcases four “ points of view ”—going from the canvas to the screen, or vice versa.
Using low-resolution images of landscapes gleaned from the Internet, Dan Hays constructs paintings with connections to the history of landscape painting, (even if not explicit), and in turn presents a paradoxical visual realm where immaterial pixels and physical brushstrokes coalesce. His work speaks to how accustomed we’ve become to living with or seeing screens, and also how alarming and disheartening that is. “ Not just in the cinema or living room, but on mobile telephones, advertising hoardings and computer interfaces, the hi-tech screen threatens to mask an elemental experience of the world with a transparent optical illusion ”. Shown to be a latent quality of any fugitive frame of YouTube video or traffic webcam, these images tend towards abstraction, suggesting a broader sense of longing for something lost.
The new series Binoculars by Leslie Thornton also shows a tendency towards abstraction. Thornton intersects nature and technology—the work consists of flat screen monitors where two circular fields appear on each : on the left, images of animals—birds, reptiles, fish, some exotic, others familiar—filmed in the wild, and on the right, the image is folded back on itself in a centripetal pattern, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. The two circular fields are intimately connected. The effect is unexpected and profound. Nature is not subsumed, circumscribed or contained but the space of otherness traced in the image of the animals is filled by an abstract artificiality, transporting the viewer into a world prior to language.
Michel Huelin deals with the concept of a transformed, alienated nature, with manipulation and mutation. In a series of Lambda prints and videos he presents digital creations of a virtual biotope (or Phytotron) in which the elements complement and nurture each other. The viewer plunges in a fictious ecosystem, a jungle of hybrid objects half familiar half alien. En découvrant ce monde sans échelle, l’œil prospecte, pris entre plaisir et vertige, bulles et explosions, épouse transparences et distorsions. “To a certain extent, Huelin explains, I simulate a possible evolution of living and inert matter by changing a number of numerical parameters that determine the reactions between the virtual elements and their fictive environment.”
Paul DeMuro’s new paintings utilize a computer or even a cell phone to change the image on the screen into its photographic inverse. By using color that is removed from intuition and then translating into physical, thick, sculptural oil paint, he attempts to deal with this specific moment in the relationship between the human hand and the machine : “Would it not be hard to imagine the day when a program will arrive that makes your posts, pics, tweets, likes, etc. into a repeating algorithm, thus making your personality, persona and identity go on into the foreseeable future, long after your body dies and rots away?”
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Paul De Muro